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Tuesday, August 31, 1999 Published at 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK


UK: Wales

Sport sinks to murky depths

Dirty play: Snorkellers must not use conventional strokes

Welshman Peter Owen clinched the World Bog Snorkelling Championships - and in a record time.

Mr Owen, who now lives in Bristol, managed to swim the 60-yard course in one minute 52 seconds, just ahead of defending world champion Craig Napper.

Mr Napper, from Porth in the Rhondda, finished with a time of one minute 57 seconds - four seconds outside the record time he set last year.

Around 40 snokellers from around the world donned wetsuits, masks, flippers and brave smiles for 14th annual championships near Llanwrtyd Wells in mid Wales.


Gordon Green: "Some competitors suffer from hypothermia"
Competitors, who take part one by one, are allowed a snorkel and a pair of flippers to help them complete two lengths of the 60-yard peat bog trench without employing a conventional swimming stroke.

The fume-filled water is icy cold and the mud reduces visibility below the surface to zero.

Competitors also had to put up with sharp reeds poking from the sides of the trench and glue-like mud on the bottom.

TV appearance

Speaking before the competition, organiser Gordon Green said: "The main point of the rules is so competitors don't use a crawl-type stroke but beyond that it's just a matter of getting up and down as fast as possible.

"The trench is about 4ft deep and they can use the bottom if they want but I don't think it would give them any advantage."

The championship has now taken its place among the range of traditional Bank Holiday madcap sporting events, especially after Mr Napper's guest appearance on BBC TV's comedy sports quiz, They Think It's All Over.

But the event is not all about winning at all costs. An American ice cream firm, which is sponsoring the event, handed out prizes for the slowest times as well as the fastest.





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